I was excited enough about this movie that I had posted three times before on it. If you, like me, were eagerly anticipating the pairing of two of the hottest A-list actors today in the same movie, The Place Beyond the Pines does deliver that. However, if you were waiting to see Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper actually acting together in the same scenes, eh, no… you won’t get that here.
Like its title, The Place Beyond the Pines rambles too much, without understanding how to construct the climax that everyone is expecting and deserving. The director Derek Cianfrance more or less abandons the taut style that served so well in his previous work Blue Valentine. I think he was trying for an epic-ish vision in 3 acts, perhaps in order to demonstrate his breadth, his ability to make grand tales and move beyond the small intimate indie.
This movie begins with a great deal of promise, and the first part with Gosling is quite gripping. The second third is good too. I kept giving Pines the benefit of the doubt, and was thinking happy thoughts with expectation of a great and explosive climax — but ultimately it just peters out. I reckon Cianfrance is attempting some greater message on redemption, forgiveness and loss, but he forgets that story must come first.
Beyond the Pines also has a major continuity problem that is generally solved in film school 101: when you jump forward 15 years in time, you need to make the characters look a little older. I mean, nothing extravagant, but after 15 years people don’t look the same as they did before 15 years. Especially as in the case of one character, a drug-addled abuser who couldn’t possibly make it another year, much less 15. Try a little makeup, people.
As I’ve said before, Ryan Gosling is the best actor working today. He is the Jack Nicholson of his age: always fascinating no matter what he is doing on camera. He’s great here too. And Limitless caused me to gain respect for Bradley Cooper that would otherwise be flushed away by The Hangover and the stupid dance-off sitcom un-movie Silver Linings Playbook. And I like him in this movie. But in the end, there is nothing from a story perspective that stands out here. This is not going to be a movie that you remember a few years down the line, and for that reason I cannot recommend it. There is a lot that does work, but more that doesn’t. 5/10
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